Bran, Turlogh and Allison, three lesser charcaters of Robert E. Howard

In many ways, Bran Mak Morn was a character with great promise, but of whom Howard ended up using only in a handful of his writings. The most prominent story for this atypical Howard hero, the last king of the savage race of Picts, comes in one of the best Howard stories, Worms of the Earth, where Bran Mak Morn makes a deal with an ancient enemy race of the Picts, a Lovecraftian underground race, in order to take down an impending Roman invasion. All Bran Mak Morn stories are actually linked to H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos, as deities like Dagon are often mentioned in them.

Bran Mak Morn is a grim character, who's trying to keep his savage people together in order to provide them with some sort of a future. Despite the Picts have degenerated quite a bit from the ages of Atlantis, Bran himself is still a pure blooded Pict, coming from the direct lineage of Brule the Spear-Slayer, who was the right hand of King Kull. But those days are far back in the mists of history and the Picts are far from the glory they once might have had. Now they're a gnarly, twisted and disfigured people, who try to fight against new races with more advanced weaponry than they have, as while the Picts did know the secret of iron and steel, they forgot much after the great cataclysms of the world and are now a remnant of the stone age.

Worms of the Earth is the only story that is told from the perspective of the Pictish king. The other stories he's in are not really about him, as he's either only mentioned or is only a side character. There are only six stories that are considered to be Bran Mak Morn stories and only in 3 of them, he's more than a mention. In Kings of the Night, he is taking a part in a battle where Pictish wizards summon King Kull to lead a band of Norsemen, who decline to fight under a Pict. In Men of the Shadows, a captive Roman soldier is taken to see Bran, whose wizard conjures visions of past and the future, where the fall of the Roman empire is predicted. In the rest of the stories, Bran is merely mentioned here and there.

As I stated, Bran Mak Morn was a character with great promise, but Howard didn't end up utilising him that much. He did use him as a background character and a prominent part of his own lore, but sadly enough the grim king of the Picts never did get the same attention as Howard's other creations did.

Turlogh  Dubh O'Brien, an Irish clan outcast warrior, is pretty much a one-note character, who has a very little personality besides his constant anger and almost psychotic battle behaviour.  As such there's isn't much to say about him, despite the stories he's in are entertaining enough, he as a character is not.

Robert E. Howard wrote 5 stories about the bloody trails of this Viking hating axe-wielder, but as a whole, there's nothing much else to say about the stories, besides that some of the goriest moments Howard has penned happen in them. And that, I guess correlates with the pipe brained nature of the character himself.

As a note, the world where O'Brien lives in is connected to the Hyborian mythos, so as such you can find little clues from them of what happened to the world during the passing centuries, but that might be the most interesting aspect they have going for them. Picts often mention in the Turlogh tales and the great king of Picts, Bran Mak Morn, even has a notable role in the story "the Dark Man", where Turlogh learns that the centuries dead Pict has become a new God for the ever-diminishing race.

Even less than of Turlogh I have to say about James Allison. Of him, Howard completed only two stories and they both revolve around this, then, modern day Texan man recalling echoes of his past lives as a fearsome warrior from the mist of times so distant, that not even historians could imagine.  them. There were fragments written for 5 other Allison stories, which were later on finalised by other authors.

James Allison was clearly meant as a vessel to write about different characters, but at the same time tie them together with this one central figure. And that's pretty much it. The two finished stories by Howard are no means anything remarkable in his vast bibliography.


  1. Et vain ymmärrä Mustaa Turloghia. Sillä kuten Howard toteaa Mustassa miehessä: "Hänen karuutensa oli sitä luokkaa, että sivistyneen ihmisen on sitä mahdoton ymmärtää"

    Turlogh realized something of the madness of his pilgrimage. But he was bred to hardships and peril. Cold and ice and driving sleet that would have frozen a weaker man, only spurred him to greater efforts. He was as hard and supple as a wolf. Among a race of men whose hardiness astounded even the toughest Norsemen, Turlogh Dubh stood out alone. At birth he had been tossed into a snow-drift to test his right to survive. His childhood and boyhood had been spent on the mountains, coasts and moors of the west. Until manhood he had never worn woven cloth upon his body; a wolf-skin had formed the apparel of this son of a Dalcassian chief. Before his outlawry he could out-tire a horse, running all day long beside it. He had never wearied at swimming. Now, since the intrigues of jealous clansmen had driven him into the wastelands and the life of the wolf, his ruggedness was such as cannot be conceived by a civilized man.

  2. That doesn't really make him an interesting character though. He comes out like a stock character, who could be replaced with almost any other Howard character and the stories themselves wouldn't suffer from it at all.

    Conan has his grim sense of humour as well as his go-getter attitude towards the things he wants. He's ruthless but he also can be a solid comrade, but a the same time, if you wrong him, he can just as well lob you head off. Kull is a kind of a berserk what comes to combat, but he's also a sort of a philosopher king. Solomon Kane is a moody bastard, but he at least is on a constant voyage of being as good as he can while being a God fearing puritan and a kind of a lunatic as well.

    And what is Turlogh? He's just angry all the time.


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